Water Service Line Inventory and Verification

Logo for Lead Safe Durham

Service Line Material Inventory

The Department of Water Management is working to identify all water service line materials in its service area. This includes creating an inventory of all service line materials for public service lines (city owned) and private service lines (customer owned). The service line is the pipe running from your home to the water main (see image below). This service line inventory is a requirement of the Environmental Protection Agency's Lead and Copper Rule Revision, and is a national effort to ensure that community water system's are protected from lead exposure in drinking water. Water Management has to submit a service line inventory that's as complete as possible by October 16, 2024. 

Graphic that shows the public and private side of a customer's waterline.

The service line material inventory requires all water service lines be identified as:

  • Known services lines
  • Unknown not lead service lines
  • Lead service lines
  • Galvanized Requirement Replacement

Using historical records, GIS data, building inspection forms, and other records, Water Management has identified—as of March 1, 2024—53% of Durham's service lines (roughly 56,000 service lines). The task before us is to identify and inventory the remaining 47% of service lines, or approximately 50,400 services lines. Water Management has multiple years to complete this inventory, but the more service lines we identify now, the sooner we have a complete picture of our water system, and that will better ensure the safety of our water transmission lines.

As of March 1, 2024, Water Management has not identified any lead service lines in Durham.

inspect your service lines to be eligible for a $30 water utility credit

Step 1

Use the leadCAST portal (below) to see if the service line material at your property has been identified. Enter your address in the search field located in the upper right and press enter; leadCAST will highlight your property on the map and display the Utility Side Material (city-owned) and Private Side Material (privately-owned) to the left of the map.

Step 2

Look at the results for your property. 

The Utility Side Material (city-owned) is the responsibility of Water Management. We are working on plans to identify and replace any lead service lines and some galvanized steel lines that require replacement.

If your Private Side Material has been identified (copper, PVC, etc) or listed as Known Not Lead, then your Private Side Material is not lead. That's good news! Known Not Lead means that the service line material is not known, but your home was built after 1987. North Carolina banned the use of lead service lines in 1986, so it is highly unlikely for there to be lead service lines in homes built after 1987. 

If the Private Side Material is listed as Unknown, the Department of Water Management encourages you to inspect and identify your service line where it enters the crawlspace or basement. This has several benefits:

  • Identifying the water service line helps ensure that it is not lead.
  • Makes you eligible for a $30 water bill credit per eligibility requirements stated below.
  • Helps Water Management complete its Material Service Line inventory per the EPA's Lead and Copper Rule Revision requirement to identify and inventory all Utility Side and Private Side service line materials.

If your service line is listed as Unknown and you have concerns about the quality or safety of your drinking water, consider the following:

  • Contact Durham One Call at (919) 560-1200 to request a water quality test.
  • Review the guidelines at the bottom of this page for protecting yourself from potential lead exposure.

If you're interested in identifying your service lines and becoming eligible for a $30 water utility credit, move on to the next step.

Step 3

Before you enter your crawlspace (because who really wants to do that), check to see if you have the Home Inspection Report provided when you purchased your property. The home inspector may have identified your service line material and included a photo of the service line. You will need the photo to be eligible for the utility bill credit. Look for your copy of the report; because again, who really wants to go in their crawlspace. (We're doing our best to help you out here.) Don't have it? Contact your realtor or the home inspector to see if you can get a copy. If you have your inspection report, and it includes an acceptable photo of the service line, skip to Step 5.

Step 4

Let's get ready to inspect! If you're interested in identifying your water service line and have access to your crawlspace, please have the following ready:

  • One strong magnet
  • A key or a penny
  • Smartphone or digital camera
  • Flashlight (if necessary)

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you're alone and you're going into your crawlspace to check your service line, we recommend checking in with a neighbor, family, or friend before you go.

You can also download self-verification instructions in English or Español or use the instructions listed below.

In order to be eligible for the $30 water utility credit, here are the requirements:

  1. The construction date of the building must be prior to 1988.*
  2. The verification form in leadCAST must be complete.
  3. A photograph of the service line must be uploaded to the LeadCAST form.** The photograph must clearly and adequately show the service line material and the location where it enters the building.  See Figure 1.
  4. The verification inspection must be completed at the location where the service line enters the building through an exterior wall of the foundation into a crawl space, basement, or other portion of the building located below grade. Buildings with slab-on-grade foundations or inspections completed on the ground floor or above are not eligible.
  5. Limited to one $30 water bill credit per account.

*Service line inspection surveys for building constructed in 1988 or after are acceptable for inclusion in the service line inventory; however, they are not eligible for the bill credit.

** Figure 1. Here's an example of an acceptable photograph of a service line entering the crawlspace through a foundation wall.

photo of copper pipe in crawlspace

Time to head to the crawlspace! 

Get the items your tools and flashlight and then find where you service line enters your building. 

Test the material of the pipe by scratching it with the key or the coin, then hold a magnet to see if it sticks.

  • Lead pipes
    • Pipes are gray or silver
    • Scratch test: shiny and silver (soft and scratches easily)
    • Magnets will not stick
    • Widens at the base and forms a bulb
  • Galvanized Steel
    • Pipes are gray or silver
    • Scratch test: No visible scratch on the surface
    • Magnets will stick
    • Has threads at connections
  • Copper
    • Dull brown; greenish
    • Scratch test: scratches will be the same color as a penny
    • Magnets will not stick
  • Brass
    • Brown; can have green corrosion spots
    • Scratch test: scratches will have a gold color
    • Magnets will not stick
    • Has threads at connections
  • Plastic
    • Pipes will be smooth; may be red, blue, black, or white in color

Get a good picture (or two or three) of the service line before you leave the crawlspace. Even if you're not sure of the service line material, good photos will help Water Management staff review and identify them. And you'll still be eligible for the utility bill credit, provided you meet all the other eligibility requirements.

Step 5

Now that you have identified your service line material and have some photos of the pipe, it's time to upload those to our leadCAST system.

Before you set up your leadCAST account, please look up your water bill account number. You will need the last six digits of your account number to set up your account in leadCAST.

Then visit https://trinnex.cloud/leadcast/public/login?tenantName=Durham%20NC and:

  • Register your account
  • Verify your account in your email
  • Log in to leadCAST
  • Identify your service lines
  • Upload the photos of your service lines
  • Press submit

Water Management will review your leadCAST submission in a timely manner. We may request additional photos or information. Once we have validated your submission and verified that you meet the eligibility requirements, your will receive your utility bill credit in 30-60 days, depending on your billing cycle.

IF YOU IDENTIFIED YOUR SERVICE LINE AS LEAD

Please call us at 984-242-3012 or send us an email to let us know your service line results. We will reach out to you within 48 hours or as soon as possible.  And then review the following:

Tips to Reduce Your Potential Exposure to Lead in Your Drinking Water

Customers can reduce or eliminate the chance of lead exposure in tap water by following these guidelines:

  • Run cold water from your tap for about 5 minutes before using it for drinking or cooking any time the water in the faucet has gone unused for more than 6 hours.
  • Flush each faucet individually. To conserve water, use the flushed water for non-consumption purposes such as watering plants or washing dishes. Fill a few bottles of water after the tap has been flushed to avoid having to flush the taps daily.
  • Use cold water for cooking and drinking (and making baby formula). Hot water dissolves lead more quickly than cold water. Never use hot tap water to make baby formula or cereal; draw cold water from the tap and heat it on the stove or in the microwave.
  • Periodically remove loose debris from the plumbing materials by removing the faucet strainers and aerators from all taps and running the water for 3 to 5 minutes. 
  • Use filters. Consider using a water filter. Be sure the filter is approved to reduce lead (NSF 53-certified); visit www.nsf.org for information on the appropriate water filters.

For additional information contact us at 984-242-3012 or by email.